Headphone jacks are certainly a thing of convenience when they work! Actually, they’re typically very durable and long-lasting, so long as you manage to keep them clean. As it’s an open port, that's not always the easiest thing to do, with dust and lint accumulating over time.
A dirty headphone jack can affect how well headphones work and can keep them from operating entirely! To make sure you're always tuned in to your favorite tracks (or can hear the other person you're FaceTiming with), stay tuned and read through our guide in its entirety!
We’ll cover exactly how to clean a headphone jack for optimal performance.
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What Is A Headphone Jack & How Does It Work?
You’ve almost certainly used a headphone jack before. It’s that little circular port on the bottom of many smartphones, tablets, laptops, DJ mixers, and more.
They're typically used for communication of some kind, mainly for plugging in headphones so you can enjoy music or a conversation without others listening in. It is typically an analog socket and comes in various sizes: 2.5mm or 3.5mm.
However, as we just mentioned, they are an open port, which means that there isn't much protection from dust and debris making their way in. While a little bit of dust is expected, over time, it can lead to connection issues, low audio quality, or can even prevent you from using your headphones completely.
This is because headphone plugs (male) must create an electrical connection with the jack (female) in order for the audio signal to flow and let you hear your music. Dust and debris can block this connection from being established.
Related: How To Clean A USB-C Port
Common Issues With Dirty Headphone Jacks
Let's quickly cover some of the most common problems you can encounter with headphone jacks that haven't been cleaned properly.
4 Easy Ways To Clean Headphone Jack (Step-By-Step Guide)
The good news is that there are tons of ways to clean a headphone jack so that your closed back headphones can work properly. Some are a bit more time-consuming and tedious, while others are pretty quick and straightforward.
1. Cotton Swab Method
This is one of the most common methods, just because pretty much everyone has cotton swabs at home.
2. Toothpick Method
Toothpicks are another commonly found household item, and using it in a headphone jack is quite effective.
3. Interdental Brush Method
We absolutely love this method; however, you'll probably have to go out and buy an interdental brush as most of us don't already have some at home.
However, it's a particularly effective method if your headphone jack is worn out. Over time, due to moisture in the air, copper circuitry can oxidize. This brush can help carefully clean the corrosion.
4. Compressed Air Method
This is our personal favorite method, as it’s super simple, quick, and features little-to-no risk of damaging the jack. However, it’s a bit more expensive to purchase a can of air than to simply use a Q-tip that you already have at home.
How To Clean Headphone Jacks Of Popular Devices
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular devices and the best way to clean them.
For whatever reason, the most common method of cleaning laptop headphone jacks is by using a dry cotton Q-tip. Once again, try to twist the end to make it thinner.
Also, try to select a less fluffy cotton tip, so it doesn't disintegrate and create even more debris inside! Follow the rest of the instructions detailed above.
iPhone Models (8, 7, 6)
No matter the model, you need to make sure that your iPhone is turned off. Many people want to know how to clean headphone jack iPhone 8 specifically, though. As iPhones and smartphones tend to go everywhere with us, including pockets, at the bottom of bags, etc., they tend to really get grimy.
For this reason, we recommend using a toothpick or paperclip with tape at the end. If that doesn't work, use canned air to blow out any remaining debris. If you want to know how to clean out your iPhone headphone jack, just follow the instructions listed above, as all methods are effective.
Xbox One Controller
These controllers love getting dirty! This is another time where a toothpick or Q-tip would work perfectly. Just make sure that you’re very gentle, as these jacks tend to be very delicate.
The iPod Touch is a classic we’re sure you want to use for many more years to come. If your jack is no longer working, it’s likely due to corrosion after all this time. Keeping that in mind, use a soft-bristled brush like the interdental one we already covered.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Can a headphone jack wear out?
It can, after a while, if the corrosion inside becomes too much. However, with a soft-bristle brush, you can gently help this issue. Sometimes it's been too long, and the corrosion has become too advanced, but this isn't typically the case.
Do I need to twist in my headphone jack?
You shouldn’t have to. However, you may find that twisting the cord of your headphones makes the audio sound better. At that point, the issue is likely with the cord of your headphones or even your audio source!
Is it bad to plug and unplug headphones?
It's not ideal, that's for sure. In fact, unplugging and plugging them in can spark mechanical issues. Always aim to plug them in and remove them gently, holding onto the body of the plug instead of the wires as the wires can separate otherwise.
Is it bad to leave headphones plugged in overnight?
It’s just better not to. Leaving anything plugged in overnight isn’t the best idea.
How much does it cost to fix your headphone jack?
It depends on the device and the jack itself, but you can expect to spend around $100.
Now that you're an expert in how to clean your headphone jack off just about any device go out there and get to it! We know you're excited to hear your music the way it's intended.
Holly Curell is a US-based freelance writer & editor extraordinaire. With over a decade of writing technical manuals, blog articles, & even company communications, Holly has a passion for providing value to readers on everything she knows about tech-related topics. When she’s not writing, Holly enjoys reading, hiking, wine, & wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s. Holly is currently based out of North Carolina, where she lives with her husband Ken & their three children.